Friday, January 21, 2011

Building SOUL

Let’s talk about “soul”… what is our soul? Is it our deepest innermost being? Is it that part which connects us to our spirit? A higher being? God?

The notion of a “soul” is so esoteric.

SOUL: we strive to fill it, be true to it, connect with it and to those of others. To understand something cognitively is one thing, but to understand it with our soul means to understand it on such a deeper level. Perhaps our soul is what gives us dimension and depth. That’s what allows us to feel more deeply, and understand on an intrinsic, spiritual level. The soul doesn’t just “see,” but rather it “feels.” It recognizes beauty, sensitivity, passion, understanding, and inspiration.

I like to think of architecture as buildings that embody a soul.

How does a building have a soul? When a building “speaks to you,” when walking through it, you are not just seeing with your eyes. You feel engaged and know that you are “experiencing” the space…that is when you are in the presence of a building with spirit and soul. It is that soul that breathes life into the building, creating an unforgettable space that unfolds to you.If you’ve ever visited Gaudi’s work in Spain, or Louis Kahn's Salk Institute in San Diego, you know the feeling that literally takes your breath away as you stand in awe of the space. The quiet power of beautiful and timeless architecture can be spectacular and mesmerizing. In that moment, its soul speaks to ours, and there is recognition and understanding.

A soulful building will be captivating no matter how often we return to experience it. But it is not just historic European buildings that embody spirit. It can be the smallest most insignificant space that can stir our soul. So take note of the spaces that you are in, those that you visit, and those that you occupy. Does it capture light in a rich way? Does it resist confinement, and feel as if it breathes? Is nature woven into the space to remind us of the natural environment? What building or place evokes feeling in you? What space stirs your soul?
Because it is so esoteric, because it is so intuitive, a building’s soul is best understood in images rather than words…

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